Celtics

Garnett still out, and joined on sidelines by J. O'Neal

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Garnett still out, and joined on sidelines by J. O'Neal

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Kevin Garnett missed his eighth straight game against the Kings, and he may miss more.

He's not alone.

The C's were also without Jermaine O'Neal, whose left knee continues to prevent him from suiting up regularly for the Celtics.

While the C's count on both to contribute, Garnett's injury is the one of greater concern right now. The Celtics' defensive catalyst has missed eight straight games because of a right calf strain injury.

Bostonhad initially said Garnett would be out a couple of weeks, withWednesday night's game marking the two-week anniversary of his injurywhich occurred Dec. 29 at Detroit.

Coach Doc Rivers said Garnett wouldprobably not play on Friday against Charlotte, but there's achance he'll return to action on Monday against Orlando.

Thelonger Garnett stays out -- especially considering how Garnett's right knee injury a coupleyears ago snowballed into him missing 25 regular-season games and theentire playoffs -- the more likely Celtics fans are to starttheorizing that his injury is worse than the C's are letting on.

"It'sno conspiracy or anything like that," Rivers said. "It's just taking alittle longer than we wanted it to. But it's not a big deal."

When asked whether there was a concern that the injury might linger deep into the season, Rivers responded, "No."

He added, "No one has told me to worry about that. Eddie Lacerte, the C's head trainer is really nonchalant about it."

When asked what has prevented him Garnett suiting up by now, Rivers said, "I don't know. It's as simple as my conversation with Eddie. I ask 'Is he ready to go?' And he says, 'If it was a playoff game, then yes, but I would hold him out a couple more days.' "

As for O'Neal, it was the 21st game of the season he has missed due to injury.

Rivers said O'Neal's left knee was swollen Wednesday morning. It is unclear when O'Neal will return to action.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Coaches in all sports will tell you that winning is not easy.
 
Making the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak even more impressive is that a number of the victories have involved Boston turning to some unlikely sources of production.

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And that has provided a glimpse into a franchise that’s getting the best of both worlds: quality play from its core group while developing reserves who have contributed to the team reeling off 16 straight wins in a variety of ways.
 
Because coach Brad Stevens has gone deeper into his bench this season than past years, it has created a roster with minutes more evenly distributed and with that, less wear and tear on the bodies of key players.
 
And while this team is led by Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, there has been at least one other Celtic to emerge as a top-three performer every night...and often it’s not the same player.
 
“Much more unpredictable now,” a league executive texted to NBC Sports Boston. “That number three guy, is it [Jaylen] Brown? [Jayson] Tatum? Sometimes it’s Marcus [Smart]. You don’t know who it’s going to be because a lot of times, I don’t think they [Celtics] know who it will be. It’s why they’re so good, man.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game in Miami with the Celtics trying to push their winning streak to 17:

KYRIE FOR MVP
It’s one thing for the home crowd to get into the ‘M-V-P’ chants when you’re at the free-throw line. But it’s a completely different matter when those same cheers are being heard on the road. That’s where Irving was following the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas, a game in which Irving dropped 47 points, 10 in overtime. It’ll be interesting to see if another strong game by Irving will lead to another serenading of ‘M-V-P’ chants for the most dominant player on the team with the league’s best record.


 
TURNING DOWN THE HEAT
The streak is the talk of the NBA right now, but streaking was going to be part of the conversation leading up to tonight’s game regardless. The Celtics come into tonight’s game having won eight in a row over the Heat, their longest current winning streak over any team. Boston has dominated this matchup for years, posting a 70-44 record all-time against Miami in the regular season.
 

DUKE CONNECTION
College basketball just kicked off and Duke is once again among the game’s top teams, a school that consistently produces NBA talent at a relatively high level. That’ll be very apparent tonight when you consider this Boston-Miami matchup features three players (Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum for Boston, Justise Winslow for Miami) from Duke who will all be in the starting lineup and a fourth (Boston’s Semi Ojeleye) who attended Duke but later transferred to SMU.


 
JUSTISE WINSLOW
Every front-office executive has that one player they tried – and failed – to acquire that, in hindsight, not getting him was a really good thing. Winslow is that guy for the Celtics. While he hasn’t been necessarily a bust, his impact at this level hasn’t been enough to have warranted all the assets Boston was willing to part with on draft night in order to move up and select him. Still, he’s healthy now and starting to play better which is evident by his numbers in most offensive categories on the rise, while his defense has been relatively solid.
 

THREE-POINTERS
The Heat have made the 3-point shot a much bigger part of their offense this season, evident by Miami ranking seventh in the league in 3-point makes (11.2) this season. In Boston, one of the keys to their top-ranked defense has been their length, which has come in real handy defending the 3-pointer. In fact, Boston has limited opponents to just 32.1 percent shooting on 3’s this season, which ranks third in the league.

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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